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How About Spending Christmas in Paris?

Enjoy Christmas in Paris

Paris is a beautiful city any time of year, but at Christmastime it can be magical. A trip to Paris can be a romantic holiday for couples or a fun family vacation. Here are some of the things you can see and take part in during your Christmas trip to Paris.

Light Displays

At Christmas time, visit the Champs-Elysées. From the Place de l’Etoile to the Arc de Triomphe, lights are strung along trees for a distance of two kilometers. The lights usually begin around the end of November and end in early January.

More than ever, Paris lives up to its name the ‘City of Light’. From November to the beginning of January, the Christmas illuminations on the avenue des Champs-Elysées, on avenue Montaigne, in Place Vendôme, the Montmartre district, Bercy Village and in many other places across the city make Paris more magical than ever!

The department stores in Paris also have wonderful light displays. Check out the district near the Opera Garnier and gaze at the beautifully lit display windows. They go all out and truly create works of beautifully lit art. The Galeries Lafayette is a top tip from Richard Nahem at Eye Prefer Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Christmas Notre Dame Paris – © French Moments

Every Christmas Eve, the churches and cathedrals of Paris will open their doors to everyone for an evening of festive chanting and prayer. Nothing, however, compares to Notre Dame Cathedral with its flying buttresses, bell towers, menacing gargoyles, and soaring spires. You can revisit a thousand years of history in one trip to this historic site in Paris — reaching back to medieval and Gothic times. At Christmastime, there is a gorgeous light display here each year and an enormous tree is decorated and lit up for the public to view. Check out the intricate nativity scene. In addition, Notre Dame has a beautiful, peaceful Christmas Eve service that is breathtaking both visually and in it’s significance.

Can’t make it to Notre Dame, try another of Paris’ cathedrals like St-Eustache, Sacré-Coeur or La Madeleine.

Ice Skating

Winter sports are becoming popular in Paris. On the floor of the Eiffel Tower, there is an open-air skating rink that is open only during that time of year. There are various rinks throughout Paris during the holidays as well. (The Eiffel Tower rink does tend to be crowded, despite Christmas being the “off” season for tourists.) Rent some skates – kid’s skates are free as is entry for everyone.  There are even areas where children can go sledding at some locations.

Disneyland Paris

Main Street U.S.A. lit up with Christmas decorations for the holiday season

The Parisian Disneyland is fully decked out for Christmas celebrations. Fun and festive events are scheduled throughout the Christmas season, from late November to early January. There are parades and Christmas markets at Disneyland Paris, too.

Sleeping Beauty Castle is transformed into a shimmering winter scene with lasers, lights and fountains, with a nightly fireworks display.  Enjoy meet and greets, sing-a-longs and lots a special Disney-style pixie dusted holiday magic.

Christmas Markets

These quaint villages are not just in Disneyland, Paris. These markets have become a holiday tradition from the Northern Alsace region. They consist of wooden booths arranged like a miniature village. Delicious treats are served from these booths, such as gingerbread and spiced wine.

Marché de Noël Montparnasse, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

The Christmas Market at Montparnasse     ©OTCP-Amélie Dupont

Christmas markets are the perfect place to pick up Christmas decorations, festive objects, regional produce and arts & crafts. You can find decorations for your Christmas tree, some cool ideas for Christmas presents and specialty foods to make your Christmas meals even more delicious.

Some of the more popular markets in Paris are near Saint-Sulpice church, on the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres, under the Grand Arch in La Defense, and on the Champs-Elysées.


The main meal eaten during the holiday season in Paris, and throughout France, is called Reveillon, and it’s a long meal served either after Christmas Eve Mass. While mostly private or family meals, you can find many places that will welcome you to try traditional Christmas treats like vin chaud, buche de noel, beaujolais nouveau, escargots and caviar. One of the best things about holidays in Paris is dessert – 13 of them! Representing Jesus and the 12 apostles, watch for brioche surrounded by dried figs, raisins, almonds and nuts, as well as fresh fruits, cookies, fudge and cakes like a yule log.

13 Desserts – Ville Verde

Although crowds of tourists are lower during winter, expect restaurants to be fully booked or closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Make reservations well ahead, or consider celebrating your Christmas Dinner on a day that is not the 24th or 25th of December. Restaurants create special Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve menus that are filled with the bounty of the season — fresh oysters, foie gras, truffles, chestnuts and champagne. Few places capture the nostalgia and peace of Christmas like Paris. It combines the slow pace of a small town with the glitz and beauty of a big city holiday.

Don’t forget the many, many bakeries that dot the entire city. This is the time of year that they pull out all the stops.

I would venture to say that spending the Christmas holiday in Paris is one that won’t soon be forgotten. The special traditions, foods, sights and experiences will cheer even the most stubborn Scrooge in your bunch.